This story was updated on Aug. 9.
One of New York City's most buzzed-about restaurants, Le Coucou, has hired a new beverage director with an impressive track record. Wine Spectator has learned that Charles Puglia, formerly of Blue Hill at Stone Barns, will join the team. Le Coucou, a collaboration between restaurateur Stephen Starr and chef Daniel Rose, has received notable recognition, including a Wine Spectator Best of Award of Excellence for its France-heavy wine program. Puglia is replacing Aaron Thorp, who left the restaurant this past April.
"I absolutely love what [chef Daniel Rose] is doing," Puglia told Wine Spectator, explaining what attracted him to the position. "I like that there's this punk-rock attitude, I suppose, to the idea of embracing these really classic dishes and going back to the roots of French cooking and running with it."
For the past four and a half years, Puglia had been the wine director of chef Dan Barber's Blue Hill at Stone Barns. Puglia's impact on the wine program was immediate: The selections quickly grew from 600 to 2,000, with strengths in Burgundy, Bordeaux, California, Champagne, Rhône, Italy, Austria, Germany, New York and Madeira. As of 2016, Blue Hill at Stone Barns is one of only 89 restaurants to earn the Wine Spectator Grand Award for having one of the world's best wine programs.
"I am really excited to work with a wine list that is driven by French wines, although it is not exclusively French. That is my absolute love when it comes to wine," said Puglia.
While he doesn't envision Le Coucou having a wine program as deep and extensive as the one at Blue Hill at Stone Barns, he is confident the wine list, which currently offers 650 selections, will soon have the range to satisfy the full spectrum of wine lovers. "My goal is to create something where you can have a really fantastic meal and if you want to drink a naturally made Beaujolais or a first-growth Bordeaux, you can do that. I want to have something for everybody and evoke the essence of French cooking."
Puglia, who officially started the first week of August, is overseeing a team of five sommeliers and will be managing the cocktail program too. At Blue Hill at Stone Barns, head sommelier William Carroll will replace Puglia.